A day after wrapping on The Seven Princesses short film, I was hired as B camera operator for a corporate online promo shoot. HMT Productions gave me the call after I met with Faisal (Cinematographer and co founder of the company) for a coffee a few months before and we chatted cameras as all good film geeks should. It was a great shoot in a lovely, clinical looking studio. I shot hand held footage of 5 women being made up by beauty experts before being formally interviewed by the rest of the crew. I love this roaming style of operating, had a lot of freedom and just enjoy working with people who are well organised and know their stuff – the HMT guys didn’t let down. The phrase of the day was ‘on it’ as everyone was working so well together and we wrapped an hour ahead of schedule. It was a pleasure working with them and I hope it’s the first of many shoots together. Faisal and James, the director, cut together 6 videos altogether for the client to promote a new range of treatments – 1 general promo and 5 separate edits focusing on each of the women. Lovely stuff! Lighting and camera details, along with the 6 60 second(ish) pieces after the break. Continue reading
This week I had my first glimpse of a large scale production in full flow on set of a TV drama being shot on location with almost 200 cast and crew members. This was a 12 person camera crew shooting on 3 Alexas with Optimo zoom lenses and more feet of BNC cable than you can physically hold. There was the DP running the show and operating on A camera, B camera as steadicam and C camera mostly grabbing another angle of the action or snatching cutaways (or general views, ‘GVs’, as I learnt). C camera, as with the others, had an operator, focus puller, clapper loader and camera trainee. I was a dailies camera trainee and had been waiting and hoping to get on board this production for several weeks so I was very excited and appropriately nervous in equal measure. Big multi camera shoots are incredibly exciting, but also come with their own set of traps for the learning camera assistant. Continue reading →
Roger Deakins is widely known and acknowledged as one of the great cinematographers of our time. He is certainly one of my favourites, having shot such a wonderfully diverse range of films while maintaining quite an incredible level of artistry which always has a relevance and respect for the story at hand. Deakins has worked as cinematographer on The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men, A Beautiful Mind and The Big Lebowski, among a vast number of others. I was actually looking for a brief youtube interview that I bumped into a while back, when I came across a much longer 50 minute interview with Deakins, led by John de Borman, the President of The British Society of Cinematographers. I feel the video implicitly explains a great deal about why Deakins has been so prolific and successful.
I will keep this brief as rest assured, if you click the link you will end up watching the whole interview despite saying to yourself “I’ll just watch 10 minutes for now and finish it tomorrow when I’ve had some sleep”. Continue reading →
The internet is absolutely teeming with information about film making, cameras, cinematography, DSLRs, DSLRs, DSLRs, lighting, accessories. While a lot of the information is quite misleading, there are tons of brilliant, free resources in all shapes and sizes online. I find that many of the best articles, videos and podcasts are led by or involve authorities in the field of cinematography, film making or camera assisting. I thought it would be helpful to catalogue these for everyone to learn from. Predominantly Cinematography Resources, these may also dip into story or camera assisting, but will always be useful to anyone with an interest in camera. Continue reading →
These competitions are as fun as they are gruelling. In April, I worked with a great team who are becoming a really solid crew (most of the same lot as the Hansel and Gretel shoot) to enter another 48 hour film competition. The same rules applied as with the 48 hour challenge in Exeter, but this one had much more at stake: a feature film development deal. For me, it meant lighting without a gaffer, using a steadicam and shooting a science fiction film on a £0 budget while making sure it looked convincing, all for the first time. Here’s how it panned out. Continue reading →
To round off the first month of 2012, I shot a short film for director Martina Lopez. It was a one day shoot with a lot of dialogue, skeleton crew and first time actresses, Sophie Wills and Lily Grindrod – both of whom did a great job.
The actresses played two 16 year old school girls skiving off class. So the whole film is set inside a school toilet and largely inside 2 very small cubicles, which presented a tricky shooting environment. There was no time or money for lighting, so it consisted of the practical fluorescent tubes on the ceiling, reflectors and a a bit of jiggery-pokery. The main problem of space and light was solved by removing the doors from their hinges and shooting from outside each cubicle looking in. To simulate the doors being closed, we flagged off the area behind me. For a rough and ready quick fix, it worked ok!
This one will probably be online quite quickly so I’ll post a link once it’s available. For now, below are some ungraded frame grabs from the rushes. Continue reading →
Last week saw an overwhelming amount of cakes, pies, chocolate and…maggots. 2012 couldn’t have got off to a better start as I got the opportunity to shoot a wonderful, short adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. Below I have included some raw frame grabs from the rushes and production photos.
I’m really looking forward to 2012 for all sorts of reasons. I’ll be making the leap into freelancing full time in April and moving to London, which means a lot more camera assisting, as well as aiming to meet competition and application deadlines for my own films. To hit the ground running at the very start of the year, I’ll be shooting an adaptation of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. The last few weeks have been spent on and off location, preparing for the shoot which will take place from the 4th – 8th of January. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included some stills from lighting tests.
We got some great news the other night – our film, Autumn Leaves, won Best Film at the 2 Short Nights film festival, in the 48 hour category!
It was a genuine surprise to have won. We went into it with the intention to win, but we really had no idea what the competition was like and were fully aware that the finished product was not graded, had a tonne of continuity issues, was missing a lot of fairly important shots that helped the story make sense (we were forced to lose the ‘less important’ shots as we neared the deadline), and that a lot of other things about it were generally very scrappy – so it truly was a very, very welcome surprise. Everyone worked their arses off over the weekend and all things considered, it’s a piece of work everyone involved should be thoroughly proud of. Unfortunately only one of our team could make it down to the festival for the screening, but at least there was one of us present to accept the award! Pete did a sterling job on the stills of the weekend. I’ve included some of them in this post, and the rest you can take a look through on his website.
Rather than run through details about the shoot and bore you all, here are some quick, punchy little things that made the weekend so chaotic, funny, productive and brilliant in equal measure. Stills and anecdotes after the jump.
This is the 2nd post in a 3 part blog. It is preceded by How I got my First Job on the Short Film, ‘Happy Birthday’ and will soon be followed by The Aftermath of my First Job.
I’m a firm believer in learning from my own mistakes. If you can learn from others and not make them yourself in the first place, better still. So maybe this might help some of you guys with your first job.
I forget in which film, or films this technique is used where the screen is split in two and we see two scenarios happening side by side:
- What the character expected or wanted to happen